The club are saddened to hear of the death of a Grimsby Town legend - Graham Taylor.
Graham was the son of "Poacher" who wrote the Scunthorpe United column in the Sports Telegraph in the same era that "Blundell" did that for Grimsby Town.
Naturally, he started off as an amateur for the Iron, as well as captaining England Grammar Schools, but it was to Town he moved, and started his first game for the Reserves on Boxing Day 1962, and making his debut in September 1963 in a Second Division (Championship) match at home to Newcastle United. In the days when players had particular positions more so than currently, he was the left-back, with partners at right-back including Jimmy Thompson, Don Donovan, and Dave Worthington.
What was it like watching Graham in action. Graham could always be picked out instantly by his slim athletic frame, and his square shoulders, using his speed and excellent distribution to superb effect. Indeed, he was even tried as an attacking midfielder on a few occasions. By 1966 he was leading by example as the team captain, and you could guarantee that you always got 100% from Graham.
Injury was beginning to catch up with him by the time he was transferred to Lincoln, in 1968, but our neighbours had the foresight to appoint him as player-coach, and then as player manager, at the age of just 28, where his attacking teams brought terrific success to the Imps and their free-scoring feats to the attention of the national press, which I always thought gave GTFC quite a bit of reflected glory!
He then joined fourth Division Watford, and took them all the way to the First Division (Premier League) and into Europe. By the time he had helped Villa to promotion, the England team was deemed to need him, and the young man that so many of us had admired at BP, had the top job.
Graham returned later to Watford, and as they sought promotion, the opposition was .... GTFC. At that time I was helping the legendary Mick the Kit with prematch preparation, and just happened to mention that I had known the love of Graham's life - his wife Rita - in my old village many years before. A few minutes later, Graham burst through the door "Who is it that knows my Rita?" and for at least half an hour before a promotion clinching match, he had us in tears of laughter as he told stories of his life in Grimsby! Not only us though. The evening before he had visited some of our fans who had booked into a hotel in Watford prior to the game, and had made sure he met and spoke to those too, in the same fun and enthusiastic way!
Graham was an absolute gift to Grimsby Town, to football in general, to Lincoln, Watford, Aston Villa, and to England despite the press reaction to him that all England managers have suffered. It's very sad that a one-and-only has been taken from us, but for those that knew him well, slightly, or just saw him as player, or manager, he will live forever in our memories.
For that we are greatly honoured and thankful for his life.
Our thoughts are with Graham's friends and family at this sad time.